Washington: President Donald Trump's new immigration order will remove Iraq from the list of countries whose citizens face a temporary US travel ban, the Associated Press reported on Tuesday, quoting unnamed US officials.
Four officials say the decision follows pressure from the Pentagon and State Department, the Associated Press reported. They had urged the White House to reconsider Iraq's inclusion given its key role in fighting the ISIS, it added.
President Trump is expected to sign the new order on Wednesday. An earlier order was blocked by federal courts.
President Trump, in his first speech before the US Congress, vowed on Tuesday to introduce a new merit-based system to regulate new arrivals in the US and reduce the flow of unskilled workers, as he held out the prospect of a sweeping immigration reform.
The revision marks a significant shift from the now-frozen travel ban - President trump's s first executive order, which temporarily barred citizens of seven Muslim countries - Libya, Syria, Sudan, Iraq, Iran, Yemen - and all refugees from entering the US. The order resulted in the State Department revoking tens of thousands of visas creating chaos. Justice Department lawyers hope the new order will be more likely to withstand legal challenges and will not leave any travelers detained at US airports.
President Trump, in his speech before the Congress, said a broad immigration reform plan was possible if both Republicans and Democrats in Congress were willing to compromise. He said US immigration should be based on a merit-based system, rather than relying on lower-skilled immigrants.
Comprehensive immigration reform eluded his two predecessors because of deep divisions within Congress and among Americans over the issue. President Trump said reform would raise wages and help struggling families enter the middle class.
While pushing for tougher law enforcement, Trump also said an Australian-style immigration system would "save countless dollars, raise workers' wages, and help struggling families -- including immigrant families -- enter the middle class."
"It is a basic principle that those seeking to enter a country ought to be able to support themselves financially," President Trump told lawmakers.
"Yet, in America, we do not enforce this rule, straining the very public resources that our poorest citizens rely upon," he added.
Trump held out the prospect of achieving a bipartisan compromise on immigration reform, something that has eluded previous US administrations.
"I believe that real and positive immigration reform is possible, as long as we focus on the following goals: to improve jobs and wages for Americans, to strengthen our nation's security, and to restore respect for our laws," he said.
(with inputs from agencies)